5 Ways to Ensure Your Customer Relationships Are Never One-Sided

You’ve got your business blog and social media channels all set up and you’re busy churning out engaging tweets, sharing photos and videos your customers love to repost, and filling your blog with insightful content—but you’re still feeling unsatisfied with your marketing efforts. Your audience is lovin’ your content; they’re engaged and hungry for more. So now what? How do you maximize your content marketing ROI?

Getting their attention is only the first step. Now it’s time to create an interactive dialogue with your current and potential customers—ensuring both your customers and your pocketbook stay happy, long-term. Here’s how…

1. Know Your Customers’ Needs
If you want to know what your customers are thinking, just ask! Surveys are a great way to get specific feedback and find out what you’re doing right (or wrong). With web software like SurveyMonkey or Google Consumer Surveys, setting up surveys is easy, and interpreting the results is even easier.

To get the most from your customer surveys, keep the questions simple and look for objective answers as opposed to feel-good positive responses. Your questions should inspire honest feedback. Offer open-ended follow-up questions so you can learn exactly why your customers answered a particular way. Don’t be afraid to probe those sensitive areas.

Finding out why something isn’t working for you has far more marketing mojo than than that Hey, it’s all good response you get when asking biased questions. And try not to shoot yourself in the foot; we’ve heard too many stories about service reps warning customers that their follow-up survey answers must all read “excellent,” lest the rep get in serious hot water. Now that’s just bad business. Look, if you get back nothing but excellent answers, wise up. Rarely is every single customer 100% satisfied.

If your follow-up survey results reveal a dissatisfied customer, reach out! Let customers know they’re valued. Offer to improve your products or services and strive to make things right.

2. Fine-Tune Your Website
High-level website visitor information is nice, but it really doesn’t give you the specifics. Dig into your analytics for the good stuff. Which pages are rubber and which are glue? Find out where visitors come from, how long they stay on each page and where they go from there. That’ll help you determine your most and least appealing content and use that information to add value.

More to the point, you can look at the behavior of individual users to reveal where you went wrong. By sampling your new customers and sending personal emails based on their behavior, you can find out what they really want from your company and whether your website provided the answers they needed.

3. Grow Your Advocacy Network
Satisfied customers are your very best advertisement. Make them happy and they’ll spread the word to more people than a billboard on a bus. What’s more, their reach is often heavy in potential customers who fit the same demographic. It only makes sense that your customers’ friends will have similar interests. Understand that your followers want to engage and share. When you build trusting relationships with your customers, they will happily spread the word.

Give them what they want: a voice. They want to know you value their needs and opinions. Oh, and also give them freebies and coupons. Customers like swag.

4. Get Ideas
Is there a better think-tank for idea generation than your own customers? Find locals and issue a personal invitation for coffee or lunch. Give them the chance to offer input, ask where you can improve, and listen for ideas—you just might snag some surprising insights you’d never considered before. Face-to-face care and interaction is such a novelty these days, so if you do it right, your customers will love it (and blog about it)!

5. Become a Native
By initiating two-way communications with your customers, you’re in the position to understand who they are. Learning to speak their language is key, but, while you may change your language to suit your audience, remember that authenticity is critical. If your customers smell deception, you’re toast. You can’t develop accurate buyer personas unless you get the full picture.

Social media and comment-enabled business blogging spelled the death of one-way customer relationships, so if you’re using social media to advertise and not to respond to your customers, you might as well be investing your entire marketing budget in newspaper ads. Your customers want and expect two-way relationships. Put it out there, be available, responsive, and helpful, and it’ll pay off big.

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